The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study
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The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study

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3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  361 ratings  ·  91 reviews
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Watch a Fox News segment on The Longevity Project.

This landmark study--which Dr. Andrew Weil calls "a remarkable achievement with surprising conclusions"--upends the advice we have been told about how to live to a healthy old age.

We have been told that the key to longevity involves obsessing over what we eat, how much we stress, and how fast we run. Based on...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 3rd 2011 by Hudson Street Press (first published January 13th 2011)
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Emily
This was an interesting book that summarized an 80 year long study on longevity. Around the 1920's a doctor named Terman started studying about 1,500 elementary aged kids and interviewed them consistently throughout their lives. After he died, his colleagues continued the study and culminated the data into this book.

The results weren't too surprising to me overall, and it got a little repetitive at times. One of the most interesting points they made was that certain kinds of stress are actually...more
Marilyn
These authors picked up Dr. Terman's longitudinal study data (Terman was looking for the effects of IQ on success in life, among other things) and looked for the factors that surrounded those that lived the longest and best (i.e., by the person's own report, they had a good life). The people who were "prudent, persistent and well-organized" lived the longest and best. "They were accomplished and were satisfied with their lives, but they did not pursue happiness. They were happy and laughed becau...more
Adam
In a nutshell:
As far as I know, you can't find this information in any other general-audience-accessible work on health psychology. This book has really important information that I think, like the authors, everyone should know. So that's awesome. It is, however, pretty dry. It's very repetitive (to hit home the important parts?) and it was kind of a chore to get through. It also leaves a LOT of questions unanswered. Their amazing study, a looooooongitudinal correlational study, provides breadth...more
Nancy
The Longevity Project is an interesting book reporting research on a wide range of factors that the authors studied for their effect on longevity. The authors write in a breezy entertaining style including lots of quizzes you can take to see how you rank for the studied attributes. The basis of the research is a group of bright children born in the early 1900s and followed until their deaths. There really are not lots of surprises, but there were a few that surprised me. (view spoiler)...more
John Waterman
This is a very interesting book about how long you might expect to live based on the choices you make regarding how you live your life. It is a scientific analysis of data collected over a lifetime of study by Dr. Terman, who began his research in the early 1900's, and is followed up by the extensive modern-day research by the authors. The book debunks many of the popular ideas in our society today, such as "eat your spinach." A lot of your success in achieving longevity will result from your co...more
Al
The title and subtitle tell you what the book is about, and motivated me to read it. The biggest surprise to me was that none of the surprising discoveries was particularly surprising. Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised. The bottom line: be prudent and persistent, and stay active, to give yourself the best chance at a long and healthy life. There, I saved you a few hours; don't thank me, just send money.
Charlene
Do you think you have the secrets to longevity?

No, it's not because you ate all of your vegetables as a child or jogged 30 minutes each day for the past 20 years or live a stress-free life.

These are just a few of the myths dispelled in Drs. Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin's book, "The Longevity Project". Released in March of 2011, this book tells of the "surprising discoveries for health and long life from the landmark eight-decade study" by Stanford psychologist Dr. Terman.

What began with s...more
Lance
The authors did a fantastic job of collating and parsing data from a study on aging that started in 1910. The lessons learned tend to defy modern wisdom in many respects, but seem more in line with what most of us observe every day.

I read the book as part of a course on Aging Policy. The book contains a number of interesting little quizzes which are fun and possibly insightful.

Would I recommend the book? Absolutely. It's a great way to get oneself re-grounded from all the hullabaloo we are taugh...more
Ann
Huh. Fascinating perspective on many simple beliefs of our society. Reminds me of Freakonomics in the way things are connected unexpectedly. It starts a bit dry, and definitely could have been better edited. This is one of those books that I might just recommend to my doctors, counselor or just someone that wants a different perspective of our society. Almost feel like reading again to get the full exposure.

One of the takeaways that I enjoyed was the idea of our society's desire to give you com...more
Elizabeth Pyjov
It does what it sets out to do very well, and gives good advice about how to live a long, full life which is entirely backed up with over 80 years of scientific data. I enjoyed it and learned something.

The book's long life secrets:
1. Live conscientiously, honestly, with integrity. They found that the best childhood predictor of longevity was conscientiousness (9). The prudent, dependable child lived the longest. The young adults who were persistent, responsible and detail oriented lived the long...more
David
The longevity project was a long-term sociological study that began in 1921. Fifteen-hundred children were selected for the study, which continued for 80 years! A massive amount of data was collected on each of the study participants, yielding a treasure trove of information to be gleaned and organized. Paying close attention to the difference between "correlation" and "causation", numerous scholars, psychologists, and medical researchers have found some extremely interesting patterns in the fac...more
Paul
An amazing body of data went into these results--which are presented clearly, with lots of examples. Some of the findings are common sense, but more of them are surprises (at least to social science types like me). There are some answers that you can't get without waiting for decades, and these data were worth the wait. It's made me reconsider some parts of my life.

As someone who loves data, I would have liked more numbers. But for most readers, given the level of statistics involved, that woul...more
Joyce
This was kind of interesting and I found it fun that after they say that their findings are not what most of us believe, they turned out to be what I have always thought:
1. Be conscientious because that type of person gets to the Dr. and flosses daily.
2. Be connected to a community of people (preferably one with healthy habits)
3. Be in a happy relationship (a good marriage). A bad one is worse than being alone though. It seems the marriage is more important for men than women.
4. Have a life act...more
Gabriel Figueroa
3 1/2 stars.

Groundbreaking in some ways, but also a little deficient in certain respects. Living a long and healthy life is an interest and goal of mine, so I am always very interested in this subject. When I picked this up, I didn't really know what it was about and assumed and hoped it was about centenarians or supercentenarians. However, it was really more about looking at patterns to see how they correlate with human longevity. This book covers a group of individuals who were originally par...more
Leah
Mar 13, 2013 Leah rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
Stumbled on this book accidentally but found myself engrossed in it. I still think while the study went on extensively, that it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Predicting factors of longevity are good but no two bodies are the same and what one person thrives on may not be the same for another. Still a fascinating read.
Lisa
I'm going to use this book with my Adult Development class next semester. Interesting set of studies on the psychological predictors of longevity, and just at the right reading level for undergrads. Plus now I don't feel so bad that I hate exercise; at least I'm highly conscientious.
Dooley
An interesting compilation of compelling data analysis and reporting of the study's findings. Dr. Terman's study is really one of a kind, even if it wasn't as racially diverse as one might have liked. The era in which the study's participants were charted was much different than today with an entirely different set of stresses and rigors, but the findings can probably be juxtaposed to modern day society. Risky behavior is risky behavior, even if it occurs in 1940 or 2013. The risks may be differ...more
Sarazen
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Even though I spent the last week working on some fiction writing, I have been mulling over ways to find the words to review _The Longevity Project_ which I finished up just a little over 2 weeks ago. It is a new release, so if you haven't read it yet I recommend you put it on your short list if you'd like to be around to see your eighth decade or more. The book is as fascinating as it is insightful.

In short it is the sum of the discoveries that have come out of an eighty year long...more
Olivia
This eight-decade longitudinal study thoroughly tested hypothesis and preconceived notion that we have about how to achieve a long life, e.g. e.g. 'is it true that an extrovert carefree person lives a longer life than the introvert and conscientious one?', 'is it true that staying single reduces our chance to live a longer life?', 'is it true that the way to achieve longer life is to avoid stress?'.

Our society is used to frame longevity issue in a symptom-tackling manner but this study dug deep...more
Linda
I would rather read the Terman report than this interpretation.
The study results are appropriate for: 1500, bright, middle class Californians (white) born in 1910 Lived through depression, war, prosperity, female limitations. Conclusion according to this book: Well-adjusted children growing up in a socially stable society are much more likely to become healthy, long-living adults. Personalities, careers and social lives relevant. Subjective variables.
MYTHS according to this book:
The best of m...more
Blog on Books
In the fall of 1921, Stanford University psychologist Lewis Terman began an experiment that would stand the test of time. In order to discover what made certain individuals stand out in their future lives’ pursuits, he began a study of 1,500 children – mostly born around 1910 – that would lead to a groundbreaking set of discoveries that defy much existing science as it relates to the field of longevity.

Though Terman died in 1956, well before many of his subjects, his research was continued and n...more
Ken MacMillan
I was fascinated by how much of "what everyone knows" turned out to be wrong when lifelong information about a large group of people was carefully studied. Among the surprises--the geeky awkward boys from elementary school who grew up to be professionals had longer lives than the glib, sociable jokesters who were the center of attention. And the findings about marriage really changed how I understand the popular wisdom about getting married to live longer, showing how women who got OUT of bad ma...more
Davie
A fascinating report on a study that puts the LONG in longitudinal. The book describes what happened to the group of children first studied by Terman as part of his goal to identify the genetically superior individuals who should be funneled to the ruling class. Happily, the authors of The Longevity Project aren't drinking the eugenics koolaid.

As time went on, the researchers had the challenge to update the questionnaires used to measure various personality characteristics and life success. Of...more
Yuki
Apr 05, 2011 Yuki marked it as to-read
Recommended to Yuki by: NPR
Shelves: tsundoku
--Get married and you will live longer. (Myth!) --Take it easy and don't work so hard and you will stay healthier. (Myth!) --Thinking happy thoughts reduces stress and leads to long life. (Myth!) --Religious people live longer, so don't miss religious services. (Myth!) --If you have hobbies like gardening, walking, and cooking, you should take up more vigorous forms of exercise. (Myth!) --Worrying is very bad for your health. (Myth!) --If you believe that you are loved and cared for, then you ar...more
Devilish
Dr Terman interviewed over 1,500 bright children and their parents and teachers in the early 1920s. He was hoping to find what determines success, so he followed them throughout their lives. He didn't manage to find an answer for what makes you successful (see Malcolm Gladwell's very good "Outliers" for that), but in one of those serendipitous things that happen in science, instead he left and enormous amount of data regarding these people's lives.

The authors, Friedman and Martin, along with var...more
Anthony
A very interesting look at a childhood to grave study of over 1500 people. Uses statistical analysis and data mining to find parallels between their lifestyles and how long they lived, with a handful of examples. It draws some surprising conclusions (children of divorced parents lived shorter lives, but only if the marriage seemed good until the divorce, people who worry a moderate amount live longer than those who don't worry at all - but "catastrophiers" who worry about everything do badly as...more
Christina Boyle
This book was fascinating. The chapters on careers and religion were particularly interesting. Be social, be curious, love your body and celebrate health. One of my favorite parts was this passage:

"Overall, our finding revealed that when choosing a career, finding the perfect match doesn't necessarily put one on a path toward long life. This doesn't mean that choosing one's career path is unimportant. . . But living out one's dreams is not what led to health and longevity. It is was a productive...more
Kate Conley
I read this after it was mentioned in one of the Malcom Gladwell books. I found it very interesting that the strongest and most consistent indicators for longevity appeared to be personality type, which lead people to more or less healthy habits and life situations. Totally recommend, and the quizzes were fun.
Leslie
What does it take to live a long and healthy life? Based on a long-term study, Friedman and Martin found that people who lived a long life (defined as over 65) did so because their personality traits helped them avoid chronic illnesses: "those who -- through an often-complex pattern of persistence, prudence, hard work, and close involvement with friends and communities -- headed down meaningful, interesting life paths and...found their way back to these healthy paths each time they were pushed o...more
Curt
I listened to the audio book from the AUstin public library for free on Overdrive on my Android. Fascinating 80 year study with multiple researchers on what makes people live a long healthy life. Comes down to 3 things (as I recall)
1. Be connected to a community of people (preferably one with healthy habits)
2. Be in a happy relationship (a good marriage). A bad one is worse than being alone though.
3. Have a life activity that involves exercise, but where the purpose is not exercise. I.e. be a go...more
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Howard S. Friedman is Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California in Riverside, California. For three decades, Professor Friedman has studied personality predictors of longevity, developing a scientific understanding of the "disease-prone personality" and the "self-healing personality." His latest book is "The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long...more
More about Howard S. Friedman...
Personality: Classic Theories And Modern Research Health Psychology Readings in Personality: Classic Theories and Modern Research The Self-Healing Personality: Why Some People Achieve Health and Others Succumb to Illness Foundations of Health Psychology

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“The late comedian and actress Lucille Ball had her own secret to staying young: live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” 0 likes
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